Almost like living on another planet

Fred KingIn 1944 my parents, Fred and Ann King, bought the last house on Berney Cres. (behind the Garden Court Apartments) in South Leaside for $5,000. I lived there with my younger twin brothers and six foster children,

It was almost like living on another planet.

Milk was delivered via horse-driven Silverwood wagons and put into a fridge that was cooled by ice from Lake Simcoe, also delivered by horse-driven wagons.

During the cold winter months, a delivery man carried a sack of coal to our house and emptied it through a side window chute down to the basement, where the furnace was.

Our telephone number consisted of two alphabetical and four numerical characters, in our case: MA 6723. MA stood for Mayfair.

A dollar seemed to go a lot further. For example, it could buy five loaves of bread. Gas was 19 cents a gallon (before litres became used), Banks updated customer passbooks manually on 3×5-inch recipe cards, In the mid 1950s a good executive salary was $15,000 a year.

We attended Rolph Road Public School as well as Leaside High School until my brothers transferred to Northern Vocational School to learn a trade,

Our family business, a double store called King’s Gift & Smoke Shop, opened in 1948 at 1567 Bayview Ave. between Millwood and Fleming, Business hours were 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. every day, including holidays.

My mother managed the part of the store that featured fine china (Doulton, Wedgwood, etc.), costume jewellery and Coutts/Rust Craft greeting cards (the largest volume for a store its size in Ontario), The other side contained magazines, comic books, tobaccos, confectionary, games, school and office supplies, and tickets to sporting events.

Customers included Doug Laurie, owner of the hockey store next to Maple Leaf Gardens, Maple Leaf hockey star George Armstrong, and Norman Breakey, the inventor of the paint roller (see sidebar).

South of  Fleming on the same side of the street as my parents’ store was Murray’s High-Grade Footwear, the Bayview Theatre (which became the Bayview Playhouse in 1958 and now Shoppers Drug Mart) and Badali’s Fruit Market, Gas stations were located on the three corners of the Bayview and Millwood intersection.

My father’s biggest competitor was Claire’s, which was on the opposite side of the street, and further north, At Bayview and Davisville was the Bayview Bowl, which burned down in 1967, Humphrey’s Funeral Home is still in the same location, Sunnybrook Plaza opened in 1952.

My late father was head of the Bayview Businessmen’s Association (BBA), Ironically, just as now, parking on Bayview was an issue back then, So much so that the BBA hired meter maids to feed nickels into the meters for their customers,

Although my dad was asked to run for mayor, he declined due to heavy business obligations.

In 1965 my parents sold their store because they feared small business on Bayview was doomed due to the anticipated heavy competition from the new Thornciffe shopping mall, This brings to mind the situation business owners on the street face today competing against the big box stores on Laird.

Did this inventor live in Leaside?

True or not?

There are a lot of iffy details on the internet about Norman Breakey, the man credited with inventing the paint roller in 1940 in Toronto, and maybe Leaside.

Some accounts say he lived here or worked at a hardware store in Leaside.

Breakey apparently was unable to find investors to help achieve large production and other people made small changes so they could market the roller as their own invention. One was Richard Croxton Adams, who claims he invented it in his basement that same year and got the first U.S. patent.

Breakey was, by most accounts, born in 1891 in Pierson, Manitoba. Others say he was born in Chicago and came to Canada as a small boy. He died, according to most accounts, after 1940, a disappointed man.

Wikipedia adds the following note:

The well known science fiction writer E.E. “Doc” Smith, author of “Skylarks of Space”, in his book “Spacehounds of IPC”, which was published in a magazine serial in 1931, actually mentioned using rollers to spread a paste on the outside of a space ship.